From the big lead
The Legends Football League, which you probably know as the Lingerie Football League despite its rebranding, got humanized by Peter King’s MMQB site. Previously, Grantland had also done a feature on the league and discussed the CEO Mitchell Mortaza, back in July.
The news that the Legends Football League didn’t pay its players has already been out there. In the Grantland article, Mortaza made the following claim. “If we paid a dime to a player, we wouldn’t sustain a season of play.” Mind you, this is a league that does have a television deal with Fuse and charges admission for games. If your business model is not to pay the workers even a minimum wage, in order to really run the business, you might need to re-evaluate.
Prior to the 2012 season, the league had compensated players with a percentage of the revenue. This changed and the league was reorganized as an “amateur” organization.
MMQB contains the following incredible section:
The LFL apparently used to pay players, but stopped doing so sometime after Mortaza circulated a league memo on March 18, 2011. Obtained by The MMQB, the note read: “The moment it became clear to us that the league needed a shift in culture was following this season’s Lingerie Bowl. As the confetti was coming down and the champagne was being sprayed, a player celebrating the Lingerie Bowl victory immediately turned to a league representative and asked, ‘So when are we getting our checks?’ It was at this moment, that should have been joyous and filled with a sense of appreciation for the experience, that we realized we needed a drastic change in policy to rid our games of these players.”
Yes, for the Joy of the Game. It’s like the NCAA, except with a mission of educating people about bikini styles rather than educating our youth.
The LFL was sued because it classified players as (unpaid) independent contractors, something which, according to the class action attorney, has since resulted in a default judgement because Mortaza failed to appear for any court dates. The LFL isn’t the only organization pushing the line classifying those performing vital work for the business (after all, the players are the core of the league’s business) as independent contractors. Uber, for example, is one of the the latest high profile businesses being challenged on that front.
The head of the LFL sounds like a real piece of work. According to the attorney who sued the league over employment status, Mortaza evaded service, even going so far as to deny his identity at a LFL event, before several women positively identified him. He’s also been known to deny a player from joining the league if they don’t meet his aesthetic standards, or for getting involved enough to bench a player if he feels they have gained weight. He also originally rejected the Atlanta Steam quarterback Dakota Hughes (featured in the MMQB story) because he deemed her too skinny based on the league-mandated bikini photo that must be submitted before the opening game.